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TL;DR: Scrum Master Duties, Serving a Single Team

Scrum Master Duties: supposedly, a great scrum master serves only one scrum team — that’s at least a popular narrative in the scrum community. Nevertheless, there is also a loud voice that doubts that approach: what would you do the whole day – with a single team? Aren’t they supposed to become self-organizing over time? And if so, does the scrum then need a scrum master 24/7?

As I worked for years as a product owner on scrum teams without a dedicated scrum master-which was working well-I was curious to learn more about that question, too. Hence I ran a survey in late June and early July 2018, the results of which are presented here.

In total, 261 scrum masters participated in this non-representative survey in the two weeks before July 5th, 2018. 19 participants chose not to provide their consent to Google processing and to store their answers. Hence their contributions were deleted, resulting in a sample size of 242 responses.


Scrum Master Duties: Survey Results

The survey comprised of ten questions, two addressing technicalities (sprint length and team size) and eight addressing the two most intensive work areas: scrum ceremonies as well as education and training of teammates, stakeholders, and the scrum master herself.

Size of the Scrum Team

Question: How many people are on your scrum team?

Two-thirds of the respondents work on a scrum team of at least seven team members. Small scrum teams of four to five people make up less than 20% within the sample.

Sprint Length

Question: What is your sprint length?

The vast majority of the respondents are members of scrum teams with a two-week sprint. (81 percent.)

Scrum Master Duties: Product Backlog Refinement

Question: How much time do you spend weekly on product backlog refinement sessions?

More than half of all respondents spend no more than an hour per week on product backlog refinement sessions. Given that the Scrum Guide allocates up to 10 percent of the sprint to refining the product backlog, this means to be at the low end. Probably, the respondents are not participating the whole time in the product backlog refinement? (The survey was not designed to gain this kind of information.

Scrum Master Duties: Sprint Planning

Question: How much time do you spend per sprint on the sprint planning?

The sprint planning is the most evenly distributed scrum ceremony: the median value is around 75 minutes.

Scrum Master Duties: Daily Scrums or Stand-ups

Question: How much time do you spend weekly on daily scrums or standups?

Unsurprisingly, given the sizes of most scrum teams in this survey, more than 40 percent of the teams spent between 12 and 18 minutes per stand-up or daily scrum session. On the other side of the spectrum, almost 30 percent of the teams get along with less than 5 minutes per stand-up.

Scrum Master Duties: Sprint Review

Question: How much time do you spend per sprint on the sprint review?

Almost haft of the scrum teams spends between 30 and 60 minutes on the sprint review. Interestingly, a fifth of the teams does not have sprint reviews or manages to get through them in less than 30 minutes.

Scrum Master Duties: Retrospective

Question: How much time do you spend per sprint on the retrospective?

Half of the teams spent only 30 to 60 minutes on retrospectives per sprint, more than a third in the vicinity of 90 minutes.

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Scrum Master Duties: Training and Support of Team Members

Question: How much time do you spend in total per week on training or supporting individual team members?

The answers to this questions are wide-spread: more than 10 percent of all respondents spend at least 4 hours per week on coaching other team members. On the other side of the spectrum, 40 percent allocate less than an hour per week on coaching their teammates or do not do this at all.

Scrum Master Duties: Training and Support of Stakeholders

Question: How much time do you spend in total per week on training or supporting stakeholders from your organization?

A quarter of all respondents is not coaching stakeholders at all or allocates less than 30 minutes per week to this task. The rest allocates various amounts of time to stakeholder education, most commonly around an hour or two per week.

Scrum Master Duties: Learning

Question: How much time do you spend in total per week to learn from books, blogs, newsletters or from other scrum masters, for example, in communities?

Three-quarters of all scrum masters spend at least an hour a week on educating themselves, 30 % of them up to three hours a week.

Scrum Master Duties: Doing the Math

A typical scrum team based on this survey has more than seven members and runs a two-week sprint.

On average, the team’s scrum master allocates his or her time roughly as follows, normalized to hours per week:

  • Product backlog refinement: 1.00 hours/week
  • Sprint planning: 0.75 hours/week
  • Stand-ups: 1.50 hours/week
  • Sprint review: 0.50 hours/week
  • Sprint retrospective: 0.75 hours/week
  • Learning: 2.00 hours/week
  • Training of teammates: 3.00 hours/week
  • Training of stakeholders: 2.00 hours/week

If you do the math – the total amount of time spent on scrum ceremonies, educating herself, or training teammates and stakeholders, respectively, is about 11.50 hours/week.

Learn what other activities scrum masters of a single team turn to as well in the next paragraph.

Additional Scrum Master Activities from Survey Participants

Here are some of the additional comments by survey participants:

“Preparing meetings, presentations, thinking through the habits of the team and prepare for the retro, self-reflection, writing internal blogs, preparing and executing a strategy/plan for organisational change towards agile. “

“I joined a team mid-flight where the PO was doing both PO and SM, and it’s very challenging to build trust with the team and to inspect and adapt. Some team members do not believe there is anything to improve, yet they never meet their sprint goal. “

“Other tasks are: working on impediments, preparation of the physical task board. “

“[I am] also spending a huge chunk of time doing the typical PM chores: project checklists, plans, etc. “

“The majority of my time is spent on helping remove impediments and team coordination with waterfall teams (all of our LOB teams are componentized). Also, I spend a good deal of time on reporting initiatives and internal “agile” initiatives. “

“[I am] working in LeSS with four teams in total, spending 3-4 [hours] [syncing] with other SMs and Teams. “

“[I am] working with a nimble startup trying to align with waterfall processes within a bank, trying to broaden [the] Agile adoption. “

“Depending on the sprint, I may spend a few hours preparing for [the] retro. “

“In particular, we have “corrupted” scrum to best feed the context of our company. I would not call it scrum, we are doing something based on it, we try to defend the values and principles, but the flow itself mutates based on the needs of the team. “

“[I am] liaising with other teams, external vendors. Aligning [the] team to [the] org process and tools. Metrics and reporting. “

“Gather Agile metrics and prepare reports for leadership. “

“As an Agile Coach, we spend more time on outside teams than we do with the direct team. Really, only one team for a Mid/Sr level SM? I call BS on that. “

“Training opportunities usually appear in regular Sprint Events, which I do not count separately from those events. Usually, training happens in bulk in one week, when I spend most of my time on training only. Then training occurs less. That is why I put a middle ground for training as if spread across several months. “

“I also observe a lot [of] people interactions and help with conflict resolution. “

“In my organization, we are still in [the] process of implementing scrum. The involvement of management and organization to do scrum is minimal. The organization wants to be agile, but not adopt agile practices (not yet by even doing all the ceremonies). Long way to go! “

“Some details about my support: it is about coaching people, ensuring proper implementation of ceremonies and adapting scrum framework to a non-IT environment. “

“I co-locate with my team. I listen to conversations in the team room to determine if things are going well, or [if they] need my help. As a [scrum master], you have to listen for what is NOT spoken and follow-up on those concerns just as much as what IS spoken. I have a lot of 1:1 conversations with team members and encourage them to follow-up on items as a result. This empowers the team member, and the team grows.”

Scrum Master Duties, Serving a Single Team – The Conclusion

Yo scrum master, whatchadoin all day?

I am afraid; we cannot answer that question given the non-representative nature of the survey. However, if you take into account what respondents also list in the ‘other tasks’ category, you will get a pretty good impression of the nature of the real-life ‘scrum master position’ nowadays.

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Agile Transformation: Mastery, Autonomy & Purpose — Related Articles

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Food for Agile Thought’s issue #150—shared with 18,194 peers—focuses on the role of the agile manager — from the perspective of the incumbent middle management. We also address changing the culture: what six steps are required and why putting up new value posters is futile.

We then take a deep dive into product prioritization and how to figure out what is worth building. Moreover, Andrew Chen provides a great collection of essays for those working on marketplaces.

Finally, the question of whether Scrum is iterative or incremental is answered.

Have a great week!



The Essential Read (via McKinsey Quarterly): The agile manager

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Agile Manager & Scrum Jutta Eckstein (via Agile Alliance): Changing the Culture by Changing Habits

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Michael Sahota: How To Change Your Organizational Culture

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Ron Jeffries: Iterative and Incremental

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Agile Transformation: Mastery, Autonomy & Purpose

Master autonomy purpose — in this article, Michael Gibson presents a slightly different way of viewing agile maturity, through Dan Pink’s lens of Mastery, Autonomy, and Purpose; as a simple and useful way of fostering conversations and ensuring all relevant perspectives are considered.

Read more: Agile Transformation: Mastery, Autonomy & Purpose.

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Andrew Chen: Required reading for marketplace startups: The 20 best essays

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Mastery Autonomy Purpose — Synopsis

Master autonomy purpose — in this article, I present a slightly different way of viewing agile maturity, through Dan Pink’s lens of Mastery, Autonomy, and Purpose; as a simple and useful way of fostering conversations and ensuring all relevant perspectives are considered.


Background

Let me start by saying that if you haven’t seen Dan Pink’s video on ‘Drive; the surprising truth about what motivates us,’ then check it out STRAIGHT AWAY. The concepts are very relevant to the agile space; and, for me, it’s up there with David Marquet’s video on ‘greatness.’

Anyway, Dan talks about:

  • Mastery: i.e. being great at what you do / achieving excellence in your field
  • Autonomy: i.e. being self-directing / the master of your own destiny
  • Purpose: understanding the ‘why’ behind your work and the value it delivers.

Even though Dan discusses these concepts in relation to the individual, as key drivers/motivators; I also like to think about how these 3 dimensions can be applied in the agile context. Straight away you can see how the above relates to specific agile principles. And it seems to me that just about any agile value/principle you can think of can roll up under one of these.

M.A.P. as a Simple Framework

But why should I start thinking about my agile world this way? Well, these 3 concepts can act as a great, simple framework for thinking about how to create great agile teams — i.e. to consider how we can make each of our teams achieve mastery, become autonomous and to have a purpose.

Let’s examine each one:

  • Mastery: each agile team typically wants to undertake their work to a high standard – delivering maximum value and avoiding crippling technical debt – they also want to be supported by the types of processes and tools that help them be agile (and ensure tight delivery & feedback loops), not hinder them (check out Spotify’s ‘engineering culture’ stuff for an idea of what I’m talking about here and here).
  • Autonomy: we also know that successful agile teams are self-directing and possess the necessary skills to deliver their work – with as few dependencies as possible.
  • Purpose: perhaps we can consider this from the alternate perspective – i.e. what happens when teams do not well understand the value they provide to customers and/or the reason for their existence. Teams without a purpose often spend their time on value-less work, thereby failing to deliver maximum value.
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Key Agile Roles

And, depending on the specific method / framework you’ve adopted, some key agile roles translate very well to this way of thinking – especially when considering the notions of how ‘servant leadership’ focuses on 2 main things; enabling teams and providing them with direction / purpose:

  • Mastery: Chapter Leads (and the chapter members more broadly) fulfil much of this agenda
  • Autonomy: Agile coach / scrum master can help the team achieve this through understanding agile principles & practices
  • Purpose: your Product Owners can provide squads with the context they need to see how they add value to customers and the organisation.

You may even use this construct when conducting health checks, both at the team level and for the scaled agile organisation (i.e. not specifically SAFe, but any method of scaling agile).

Before I thought about things this way I used to utilise the traditional split of People, Systems/Tools, and Processes – which is still useful, but not nearly as much as M.A.P.

Leveraging this construct can save you time also – when talking to people about certain continuous improvement initiatives, you can simply say some like ‘This will help our squad achieve Autonomy’ – which folks can simply accept without much more explanation.

Pragmatic Application

But how does it work in the pragmatic sense? Well, as with most things agile related, you need to build something into your cadence. Many of you may have heard of a ceremony called POCLAC that commonly operates in agile organisations – well, POCLAC stands for Product Owner, Chapter Lead and Agile Coach – and is a squad level ceremony that, in the case of Spotify, bills itself as a ‘support structure for the squad’ (i.e. in the model of servant leadership) and focuses on overall squad performance and health from the perspectives of People, Process & Product – which is a fairly close match to Mastery, Autonomy & Purpose.

So, given I prefer the Mastery, Autonomy & Purpose terminology over People, Process & Product, I’m going to opt for calling this ceremony SquadMAP instead of POCLAC.

Note that with somewhat of a cross-over of purpose many often ask how SquadMAP and squad retrospectives align. i.e. why do you need SquadMAP when retros serve the purpose of continually improving squads. Well, typically Chapter Leads don’t attend squad retrospectives, which means that their perspective is often overlooked. A dedicated ceremony for Product Owners, Chapter Leads, and Agile Coaches means that we’re covering off all the important bases.

Applying to the Scaled Agile Scenario

And those of you who are thinking ahead are surely asking yourself about how this applies when scaling agile – well, you guessed it, there’s also room for a TribeMAP, where the collective tribe leadership, Product Owners, Chapter leads and Agile Coaches gather according to a regular cadence to consider all things tribe health-related — and similarly thinking along the lines of Mastery, Autonomy & Purpose. Agenda items are typically things that are being escalated from SquadMAP or squad retrospectives.

But beware – do not assume or treat this group as a typical, old-fashioned leadership team. It is a leadership group, but only in the context of servant leadership – TribeMAP exemplifies servant leadership by ‘enabling’ squads to succeed.

Examples

I’ll illustrate further via a couple of examples:

Scenario 1

The nature of the work our tribe is committing to (in alignment with its mission) doesn’t happen to logically fit with any of our current squad missions, and we’re tempted to artificially split the Epic into 2 separate ones – shoehorning each into separate squads.

How SquadMAP and TribeMAP can help: in this scenario some senior squad members recognised this as a potential problem when reviewing the tribe backlog, and while considering which future work their squad might pull down. They’d noticed that a certain Epic didn’t fit nicely into any of the squad’s current missions – nor did any squad seem to possess the necessary skills to deliver that work. In this case, knowing that their squad couldn’t resolve this issue themselves, those individuals raised this issue for consideration by TribeMAP directly. During the next TribeMAP session the group sought to better understand the problem and decided on some actions – which included confirming that the work should sit with that tribe and not another, and then reviewing the squad structure/skills mix to ensure it could deliver the work. Primarily, it’s the Autonomy and Mastery agenda that drives these actions.

Scenario 2

During several recent retrospectives, a relatively new squad has considered the reasons why they haven’t been delivering value to customers. They identified ongoing, systemic issues with their workflow that inherently involves dependencies on other squads within other tribes. And given the nature of this problem, the squad is not able to resolve this issue themselves. How SquadMAP and TribeMAP can help: In this case, the squad escalates this issue to TribeMAP for consideration. This group makes decisions based on what’s best for the tribe’s ability to successfully achieve its goals — autonomously. Which in this case involves acquiring new skills within the tribe and negotiating for, and taking ownership of those activities formerly performed by the other tribe. Again, it’s the Autonomy and Mastery agenda that drives these actions.

Culture Change

I also believe that this lens will help us with the cultural change that’s so important to any agile journey. Exploring your world through this lens can help you identify the values and principles that are important to you, as well as the types of behaviours that you’d like to encourage or avoid. Perhaps the obvious example is to focus on the need to drive greater Autonomy within teams, which aligns well with existing agile principles and practices, but Mastery and Purpose are sometimes neglected. A focus on improving Mastery can help progress the way in which team members do their work; and the tools, systems, and processes they use which will speed up their cycle times and shorten feedback loops.

Conclusion

I find Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose a useful lens through which to view our agile environment; it helps us gain a more holistic perspective on our agile journey, ensuring we consider a wide range of success factors. What I’ve covered above is only a small sample; I’d encourage you to consider how else it might help you through your agile journey – especially with respect to any cultural/behavioural challenges you may face.

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Agile Transformation: Mastery, Autonomy & Purpose — Related Articles

Download the ’Scrum Anti-Patterns Guide’ for Free

The post Agile Transformation: Mastery, Autonomy & Purpose appeared first on Age of Product.

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Food for Agile Thought’s issue #149—shared with 18,075 peers—addresses the multitasking fallacy many managers suffer from, how to design an organization that supports agile teams tasked with solving customers’ problems, and what to do when your Scrum team gets too large.

We also enjoy Marty Cagan’s follow-up post—I hope you have read ‘The Revenge of the PMO’—as well as Teressa Torres’ pitch to continuously challenge your beliefs. (Running user interviews seems to be a good starting point.)

However, what if ‘Agile’ is merely a cult, something we made up collectively that is of no importance when it comes to creating outstanding products?

Have a great week!



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Ron Lichty: Scaling Scrum

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Source: Scaling Scrum

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Zach Bonaker: Seeing the System With the WADE Matrix

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Hands-on Agile 2019 Conference — I Needed Your Support

Almost three years into building this community, I believe we might now have achieved the critical mass to organize a great conference — the Hands-on Agile 2019 Conference. Currently, I would target the second quarter of 2019 for the first Hands-on Agile conference. To reduce complexity, I would plan for Berlin as its location although London might be an alternative.

Hence, the following survey is intended as a first step in the organizational process, namely gathering insights to identify a suitable location and learning about the preferred character of the conference itself.

Participate in the Hands-on Agile 2019 Conference survey now!

Product & Lean Marty Cagan: Scaling Agile FAQ

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I’d like to close this with a quote from Jeff Bezos’ annual shareholder letter: “If you’re not watchful, the process can become the thing. This can happen very easily in large organizations. The process becomes the proxy for the result you want. You stop looking at outcomes and just make sure you’re doing the process right.”

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Teresa Torres (via This Is Product Management): Critical Thinking is Product Management

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Last Week’s Food for Agile Thought Edition

Read more: Food for Agile Thought #148: Unagile SAFe®, Making Self-Organization Work, PMO Strikes Back.

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Food for Agile Thought’s issue #145—shared with 17,732 peers—addresses how to make agile work for you, how graphics can massively improve your facilitation skills, and how you can identify friends and foes with an organizational design analysis.

We also get a better understanding of Kanban Cadences, how to sell and prioritize non-feature work such as refactoring, and why merely shipping code does not mean you understand the philosophy of Kaizen.

Lastly, learn new tips and trick on how to deal with HIPPOs and their pet projects in your organization.

Have a great week!



The Tip of the Week: Make Agile Work à la Jeff Patton Jeff Patton (via Mind The Product): Owning Agile

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Join the Scrum Master Trends Survey 2018 — An Anonymous Poll by Scrum.org and Age of Product

The purpose of this the anonymous Scrum Master Trends Survey is to create a clear, data-backed benchmark that allows everyone in the agile community to get an understanding of Scrum Masters, their background, how they got there and where their compensation falls in comparison to others in the community.

By the way, the report will cover Scrum Masters as well as Agile Coaches, both employed and freelancing.

Join Scrum Master Trends the survey now: Scrum Master Trends Survey.

Product & Lean Teresa Torres (via Product Talk): The Art of Managing Stakeholders Through Product Discovery

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Des Traynor explains why merely shipping code does not mean your product is continuously improving.

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Last Week’s Food for Agile Thought Edition

Read more: Food for Agile Thought #144: Internet Trends 2018, Iceberg of Ignorance, Misunderstanding Kanban, Amazon Prime.

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